Friday, March 31, 2006

Bihar radio man gets help from abroad






Patna, March 30 (IANS) It is now the turn of Indians living abroad to pledge their support to an enterprising man in Bihar whose popular radio station has been shut down after failing to pay license fee to the government.

After reading about the plight of Raghav Mahto and his Radio Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1, members of the Indian diaspora are contacting Mahto and the media in the state to find out how they can help revive the station.

Some NRIs are ready to fork out money.

Radio Raghav had been beaming popular programmes from Mansoorpur village in Vaishali district for the past three years and enjoyed a loyal clientele, drawn from all sections of the society.

Ajay Kapoor, an NRI in Britain, approached Bihartimes.com, a popular news portal of the state, and sought contact details of Mahto.

Ajay Kapoor, a Manchester-based psychologist, has written to Mahto.

Another NRI, Pranesh Sinha, has apparently offered to pay the money Mahto needs to get a radio licence. "I read about this talented man," Sinha said. "I am really interested in helping him."

The trouble for Raghav Radio started this month when the district administration directed officials to find out if it had permission to broadcast.

Mahto says he was not aware that a licence was required to start a radio station, and he suddenly realised his enterprise was an illegal operation. The annual fee for the licence is about Rs.400,000, money Mahto cannot raise.

"I don't even have the money for medical treatment of my father who is suffering from cancer," he has been telling friends.

The 20-something Mahto was forced by officials to sign a bond promising not to go back on air again.

Another person who has offered to help Mahto restart the radio is India-born Australian Harc Worsworth.

Ajay Kumar of bihartimes.com said he had received several queries from within India and abroad. "But neither the state nor the central government is making an effort to help this poor man."



Mahto is sad his radio has been closed down, but his neighbours spread over several villages are fuming.

In a rare show of unity, locals have decided to collect money to revive Radio Raghav, as it is popularly known.

"A large number of people have offered financial help to restart the radio station," Mahto told IANS over telephone.

One man, Damodar Singh, has announced a contribution of Rs.5,000. Others have vowed to raise funds.

"My hope lies in the peoples' support," Mahto said.

Vaishali district magistrate Sanjeev Hans said the station was closed down for violating the Indian Telegraphs Act.

A formal police complaint was lodged against Mahto and the radio equipment seized by a three-member team from the communications ministry in the village on Sunday.

For people residing in and around Mansoorpur village, Mahto is a hero. He is more popular than the local legislator and MP and people prefer Radio Raghav to the national channels.

The station ran community radio service providing local news and opinion in the local dialect as well as entertainment programmes for villages in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Saran districts.
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